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TIMOTHY DEXTER, 



KNOWN AS 



LORD TIMOTHY DEXTER," 

OF NEWBURYPORT, MASS. 

If&J 

AN INQUIRY INTO 

HIS LIFE AND TRUE CHARACTER. 



WILLIAM CLEAVES TODD, M.A. 



Reprinted from the N. E. Historical and Genealogical Register for October, 1886. 



BOSTON : 

PRESS OF DAVID CLAPP & SON. 
1 8 8 G. 



TIMOTHY DEXTER, 



KNOWN AS 



"LORD TIMOTHY DEXTER," 

OF NEWBURYPORT, MASS. 

AN INQUIRY INTO 

HIS LIFE AND TRUE CHARACTER. 



BY 

WILLIAM CLEAVES TODD, M.A. 



Reprinted from the N. E. Historical and Genealogical Register for October, 188C. 



BOSTON : 

PRESS OF DAVID CLAPP & SON. 
188 6. 







\ 



In Exch» 
Wie. Hist, S#a» 



TIMOTHY DEXTER. 



TPIE writer lost years ago much of his faith in history and tra- 
dition. Events are misstated ; good and wise men are repre- 
sented as wicked and foolish, and virtue and greatness bestowed on 
the undeserving. After centuries, often, men and actions are shown 
to have been entirely misjudged, and, in some cases, as in that of 
William Tell, history becomes pure fiction.* 

Timothy Dexter, or Lord Timothy Dexter, as he was generally 
called, had a peculiar and enduring celebrity. Many distinguished 
men have lived in Newburyport, yet the home of no one else is so 
frequently asked for by strangers in that city, and in all parts of the 
country when the writer has spoken of residing there, the first ex- 
clamation has been, "Ah! that was the home of Lord Timothy 
Dexter ! " He has been regarded as the most marked example of a 
man of feeble intellect gaining wealth purely by luck. However 
unwise seemed the speculation into which he was drawn by his own 
folly, or by suggestions from others made in joke, it always resulted 
in large gains, and the stories are still fresh and often repeated, four 
score years since his decease, of his sending warming-pans and bibles 
to the West Indies, &c. &c. These stories have been received, too, 
without a question of their truth, even in the place where he lived, 
and have been endorsed by every history of Newburyport. It may 
be well, then, at a time when the credibility of so much in the past, 
important and unimportant, is subjected to criticism, to examine the 
correctness of the popular estimate of this man, whose name is so 
familiar when so many distinguished men of his time have been for- 
gotten. So prominent was he that Samuel L. Knapp, a well-known 
literary man, author of the first life of Daniel Webster, who came 
to Newburyport to reside two years after Dexter's death, and had 
often seen him, thought fit to write his life, now a rare book, though 
several times republished. 

* An amusing illustration of one of these persistent and popularly cherished fictions has 
recently come to the knowledge of the writer. According to all histories of the United 
States, 'Ethan Allen demanded from the British commander the surrender of Ticonderoga 

" In the name of the Great Jehovah ami the Continental Congress." Prof- James I). But- 
ler, of Madison, Wisconsin, has informed me that his grandfather Israel Harris was present, 
and had often told him that Ethan Allen's real language was, " Come out of here, you 
d— d old rat." 



Timothy Dexter was born in Maiden, Mass., January 22, 1747. 
lie learned the trade of a leather dresser, an occupation then popu- 
lar and profitable, and at the age of twenty-one commenced busi- 
ness for himself in Charlestown, where leather-dressing was much 
carried on, and by his industry and economy was from the first suc- 
cessful. He early married the widow of a glazier, nine years his 
senior, whose husband had left her considerable property. She was 
Elizabeth Lord, daughter of John Lord, of Exeter, N. H., and her 
first husband was Benjamin Frothingham, of Newbury, who was 
born April 30, 1717, and died June 1, 1769. She was an indus- 
trious and frugal woman, and by keeping a huckster's shop added 
to her husband's income, so that Dexter soon had several thou- 
sand dollars in specie at his command, which he was anxious to in- 
vest profitably. It was when continental money was so depreciated, 
and he had learned that Gov. Hancock and Thomas Russell, a noted 
merchant, had been buying up this paper at a small part of its face 
value, and in imitation of them he began to do the same. He prob- 
ably made better bargains, too, because he bought in small quanti- 
ties, of poor holders, obliged to sell for what they could get. He 
was fortunate in his purchase, as were all others of that day, and 
during our late war, who had faith in the government. The funding 
scheme of Hamilton gave this depreciated paper its par value, and 
he soon found himself a rich man for that period, and became an 
operator in the stocks of the day, which were constantly advancing. 

With wealth came different and large ideas. As lie had become 
rich like Hancock and Russell, his vanity led him to think himself 
their equal and entitled to the same consideration. Finding that he 
was not received into the best society as they were, he sought ano- 
ther home where he would be better appreciated, and finally fixed 
upon Newburyport. His wife's associations with the place probably 
also influenced his decision. This was at that time a town of much 
wealth and commercial importance, the third in the state in popula- 
tion, occupying a very different position relatively from its present 
rank. John Quincy Adams, a law student then with the celebrated 
Theophilus Parsons, used to say that he found better society there 
than at Washington. Harrison Gray Otis, who was often there 
when a young man, bore similar testimony ; and Talleyrand and 
other distinguished strangers who visited it, praised warmly its gen- 
erous hospitality, its air of wealth and refinement, and the beauty 
of its long High Street. 

Real estate was low, as several large failures had occurred, and 
Dexter bought and occupied one of the best houses in the town, 
that now used for the public library, but he soon removed to ano- 
ther house on High Street, with ten acres of land, which he fitted 
up in a manner worthy of his estimate of himself. He laid out 
the grounds after what he was told was the European style, and had 



fruits, flowers and shrubbery of many varieties planted in them. 
He put minarets on the roof of the house, surmounted with gilt balls, 
and in front placed rows of columns fifteen feet high — about forty in 
all — each having on its top a statue of some distinguished man. 
Before the door were two lions on each side, with open mouths, to 
guard the entrance. On an arch, and occupying the most promi- 
nent position, were the statues of Washington, Adams and Jeffer- 
son, and to the other statues he gave the names of Bonaparte, Nel- 
son, Franklin, and other heroes, often changing them according to 
his fancy. In a conspicuous place was a statue of himself, with the 
inscription, "I am the first in the East, the first in the West, and 
the greatest philosopher in the Western world." All these statues 
were carved in wood by a young ship-carver, Joseph Wilson, who 
had just come to Newburyport. They were gaudily painted, and 
though having but little merit as works of art, and less as likenesses, 
gave the house a strange appearance, and attracted crowds, whose 
curiosity deeply gratified the owner, and he freely opened his 
grounds to them. Knapp says these images cost $15,000, but an old 
gentleman, who remembered Dexter and knew the artist, has told 
me the price was $100 for each, and that Dexter made as sharp a 
bargain as he could with the artist, as he did with everyone. Wish- 
ing his house to be in all respects equal to those of Hancock and 
Russell, he imported from France expensive furniture and works of 
art, as they had done, and bought many costly books, as he knew they 
had fine libraries. Having made himself a " Lord " he bought good 
horses and an elegant coach, on which he caused to be conspicuous- 
ly painted a coat of arms taken from a book of heraldry, in imita- 
tion of European lords. Hanking himself with the nobility, he 
showed much commiseration for the sufferings of the higher classes 
during the French Revolution, caused the bells to be tolled on the 
death of Louis XVI., and sent out an invitation to the survivors of the 
royal family to become his guests. In expectation of their accept- 
ance he laid in a large stock of provisions which rose on his hands, 
an act of Providence, as he said, to reward him for his good inten- 
tions, but accoixling to the popular idea, another instance of his un- 
failing good luck. 

He had a tomb constructed in his garden, and having heard that 
some great man had had his coffin made during his life, he also 
caused a coffin to be made of mahogany, with silver handles, ex- 
pensively lined, which he kept in his house and used to exhibit to 
his guests. An old gentleman has told me within a lew days that 
he remembers when a boy looking in at the window to see it. 

With no regular business, and restless, Dexter gave himself up to 
his whims, was much of the time in a state of intoxication, and was 
constantly doing strange things, of which many instances are given. 
Acting on some impulse, he had a mock funeral. Some one was 



6 

procured to officiate as clergyman, cards were sent out to invite the 
mourners, and Dexter watched the people to see how they were af- 
fected. He was satisfied with all except that his wife did not shed 
so many tears as he thought were becoming, for which, as the story 
is, he caned her severely after the ceremony. Persons would go 
to his house professing to be lords, and saying they were desirous 
of paying their respects to one whose fame had become so world- 
wide, whom he would receive with consideration, and offer them the 
best he had to eat and drink. Mr. Ladd, the well-known peace 
advocate, of Portsmouth, used to describe such a visit. One of the 
party told Dexter that this gentleman was one of the first lords of 
England, and Dexter wished to know what the king had said about 
him lately. A gentleman told me recently he had often heard his 
father speak of a visit made to Dexter with other young men, who 
asked for the honor of crowning him. He consented, and they 
placed him on a table full of liquor, and all had a carousal. Only 
a few days ago a gentleman said to me that one of his ancestors, a 
clergyman, called on him, and after some conversation wished to 
offer a prayer, for which permission was given. At the close, Dex- 
ter turned to his son and said, "That was a d — d good prayer, 
was n't it, Sam ? " 

Wishing to extend his fame, he bought a country seat in Chester, 
N. H., on which he spent considerable money in ways to make a 
show, and called himself " Lord of Chester." He often visited 
Hampton Beach, then as now a favorite resort, and was delighted 
with the sensation he made. At one time he was sent to the county 
jail, at Ipswich, for attempting to shoot a man in a drunken frolic, 
and rode thither in his coach, boasting that no one else had ever 
been carried there in that style. He was accustomed to walk through 
the streets wearing a cocked hat and long coat, and carrying a cane, 
followed by a peculiar looking black dog with no hair ; and boys 
knowing his vanity would follow him and salute him as " Lord Tim- 
othy Dexter," whom he would reward by money, a scene which a 
few now living can remember. 

Newburyport at that time was a large market town, and country- 
men came from far with their market wagons to buy and sell, and 
they all carried home wonderful stories about Dexter, his great 
wealth, his house decorated with images, and his many strange acts. 
With but few newspapers, and so much less than now to discuss, it 
is nut to be wondered at that his eccentricities should have been so 
much talked about, and that people came from a great distance sim- 
ply to see him and his images. 

Persuaded of his own greatness, and that he was equal to any 
undertaking, like other eminent men, he thought he must become 
an author, and so he wrote a book called "Pickle for the Knowing 
Ones." It was a small volume, with some sense and much non- 



sense jumbled together. There were no punctuation marks, and as 
this was commented upon, in the second edition he placed at the end 
a page of different punctuation marks with this note : 

" Mister printer the Nowing ones complane of my hook the first edition 
had no stops I put in A Nuf here and thay may peper and solt it as they 
plese." 

He had thousands of copies printed, and gave them away, and 
this, perhaps, more than any other one thing increased his notoriety. 
Even now there is a demand lor this little work, and though it has 
been reprinted several times, a short time ago its market price was 
a dollar for what had cost but a i'ew cents. He expresses his views 
on many topics, and some of his remarks indicate shrewdness. He 
condemns the folly of Newburyport in being set off from Newbury 
with an area of only six hundred acres, and within a few years it 
has been reanuexed to a large part of Newbury, frcm Dexter's ad- 
vice, or for some other reason. In speaking of the ministers he 
says : "I suppose they are all good men, but I want to Know why 
they do not agree better. They are always at swords' points, and 
will not enter each other's houses, nor hardly nod to each other in 
the street." This remark certainly would not indicate a want of 
sense. 

Having heard that the kings of England had a poet laureate to 
sing their praises, Dexter thought he also should have one, and he 
found him in the person of Jonathan Plummer, a young man who 
had been a peddler of fish, then of sermons, songs, and sheets on 
which were printed horrible events, and who in the end turned poet 
and sold his own \ rses. Dexter took him into his service, gav° 
him a suit of black livery ornamented with stars, and crowned him 
with p&rsley, and, thus- equipped, the bard travelled around selling 
verses in praise of his patron. A I'rw stanzas from a long poem will 
illustrate the character of his productions : 

Lord Dexter is a man of fame ; 

Most celebrated is his name ; 

Mure precious far than gold that's pure, 

Lord Dexter shine forever more. 

His noble house, it shines more bright 
Than Lebanon's most pleasing height ; 
Never was one who stepped therein 
\\ ho wanted to Come out again. 

Lord Dexter, thou, whose nam! alone 
Shines brighter than kin. - throne ; 

Thy name shall stand in books of fame, 
And princes shall thy name proclaim. 
* * # 

Lord Dexter like kine 

Hath gold and silver by the I 

And bells to churches he hath given — 

To worship the great King of heaven. 



In heaven may he always reign, 
For there's no sorrow, sin, nor pain ; 
Unto the world I leave the rest 
For to pronounce Lord Dexter blest. 

Dexter was superstitious, had a collection of dream books, and 
was much governed by the advice of others. He used often to con- 
sult a fortune-teller, Madam Hooper, and, after her decease, Moll 
Pitcher, a fortune-teller celebrated in the whole region around Lynn, 
her home, both of whom knew how to make money out of him. The 
one who had the most influence over him, however, was Lucy Lan- 
caster, a colored woman, whose father was said to have been the son 
of an African prince. She was shrewd, well informed, well dis- 
posed, and used her power over him to restrain his excesses. She 
gave him more credit for intellect than did most others, saying that 
he was honest, and that his follies sprang in a great degree from 
his uneasy nature and want of regular employment. 

But the great notoriety of Dexter, as has been stated, is as a man 
who with poor judgment gained his wealth by luck. Did he so 
gain it? 

There is no doubt that his first wealth was gained by the exercise 
of his trade, in competition with skilled workmen, and without or- 
dinary business capacity it is hard to understand how he could have 
succeeded. He added to his wealth by marriage, and as this union 
is the result of luck, or calculation, or love, which decided it in his 
case is unknown. He certainly made a large sum by his specula- 
tion in continental money, as did all who bought it. In the case of 
Hancock and Russell, this would be called shrewd foresight ; in 
Dexter it was regarded as his luck. After he gave up his trade he 
seems to have speculated in many ways, generally or always, as is 
supposed, taking hints from others, as all speculators do ; but it is 
hardly credible, from his early history and constant success, that he 
did not reason about his ventures. Knapp says : " Many who at- 
tempted to take advantage of him got sadly deceived. He had no 
small share of cunning, when all else seemed to have departed from 
him. He by direct or indirect means obtained correct opinions upon 
the value of goods and lands, and seldom made an injudicious spec- 
ulation." He was in the habit of finding out what articles were 
scarce, thus making what would now be called in Wall Street par- 
lance a " corner." The shrewdest Wall Street operators fail — Dex- 
ter seems never to have made a mistake. He would transact no 
business when intoxicated, and made his appointments for the fore- 
noon, saying he was always drunk in the afternoon. In buying he 
gave the most foolish reasons to blind the seller, who thought he 
was deceived when deceiving, lie bought up such articles as opi- 
um, of which it was easy at that period of limited supply to secure 
most in the market. Knapp says : " It often happened that shrewd 



9 

merchants were suspicious of selling- him an article, apprehensive 
that it was almost a sure sign that it was going to rise, although 
they could see no reason for it." 

Dexter's ostentation in so many foolish ways naturally caused a 
high estimate of his wealth, and much curiosity how a man of his 
capacity could have gained it. He seems to have been often ques- 
tioned about it, and in the "Pickle for the Knowing Ones." gives 
his answer, which is quoted in full as a good illustration of the style 
of the book. 

" How Did Dexter Make his Money ye says hying whale bone for sta- 
ing for ships in grosing three hundred & 40 tons bort all in boston salutn 
and all in None york under Cover oppenly told them for my ships they all 
lafferl so I had at my own pris I had four Counning men for Rounners 
thay found the borne as I told them to act the fool I was full of Cash 1 
had nine tun of silver on hand at that time all that time the Creaters more 
or less laffing it spread very fast here is the Rub in fifty days they smelt a 
Ral found where it was gone to Nouebry Port spekkelaters swarmed like 
hell houns to be short with it I made seveutey five per sent one tun and 
halfe of silver on hand and over one more spect Drole a Nuf I Dreamed 
of warming pans three nites that thay would done in the west inges I got 
no snore than fortey two thousand put them in nine vessels for difrent 
ports that tuck good hold I cleared sevinty nine per sent the pans thay 
made yous of them for Coucking very good masser for Couckey blessed 
good in Deade missey got nice handel Now burn my fase the last thing I 
Ever sec in borne days I found I was very luckky in spekkelation I dream- 
ed that the good book was Run Down in this Countrey nine years gone so 
low as halfe prise and Dull at that the bibel I means I had the Ready Cash 
by hoi I sale I bort twelve per sent under halfe pris they Cost fortey one 
- Each bibbel twentey one thousand I put them into twenty one vessels 
for the west inges and sent a text that all of them must have one bibel 
in every family or if not thay would goue to hell and if thay had Dun 
wiked i\ie to the bibel and on thare Neas and kiss the bibel three times and 
look up to heaven aunest for forgivness my Capttains all had Compleat 
order.- here Conies the good luck I made one hundred per sent & littel 
then I found I had made money euuf I hant spekalated sence old time 
by government securities I made or cleared forty seven thousands Dolors 
is dit.' old afare Now I toald the all the sekrett Now be still let me 
A lone Dont wonder Noe more hone I made my money boas." 

It would be difficult to condense into the same space more improb- 
able statements than are found in this explanation of how Dexter 
made, his money, as a little examination will show. 

The first speculation named is that of whalebone. The year is 
not stated, so that it is not possible to give the amount in the country 
and the price at that date, which have greatly varied at different 
periods. The amount in the country in 1830 was 120,000 lbs. ; 
the maximum quantity was 5,652,300 lbs. in 1853. The price is 
now $2 a pound ; within three years it has been $3 a pound ; and I 
have heard of sales as low as eight cents — the price of course vary- 



10 

ing with the demand and supply. Three hundred and forty-two tons 
would be in the old reckoning 761,600 lbs., costing at the highest 
price given over two millions of dollars, and at the lowest over 
$60,000 dollars. It is not probable that this quantity was in the 
country nearly a century ago, nor that it could have found a market, 
as the demand for it has always been limited. Dexter never could 
have bought this quantity except at the lowest price, and even that 
is doubtful, as will be shown later. The tradition is that as soon 
as he had purchased it the fashion for broad skirts was introduced, 
and it was all in demand. How far a ton of whalebone would go 
in satisfying the expansive desires of the ladies of that time, the 
writer has no data for a calculation. Most of them, however, were 
practical, hard-working and economical, from necessity; merely 
fashionable ladies were rare, and visits to Newport and Saratoga 
unknown. As to the foolish reason for the purchase, it was charac- 
teristic in him to give it if he wished to buy. 

He says he had nine tons of silver on hand, which would be worth 
in round numbers $300,000, a sum which he never could have com- 
manded, as will be shown farther on. It was just after the com- 
mencement of our government, when hard money was scarce, and 
most of it foreign, as we had coined but little before the day of safe- 
ty vaults, and banks were few. If one had had such a large amount 
of coin, where could he safely have deposited it? Who ever dared 
to keep such an amount in a private house? 

His next most noted speculation was in sending 42,000 warming- 
pans to the West Indies. No hard-ware was made in this country 
until a little more than half a century ago, and all the warming- 
pans in use came from Great Britain. The amount named would 
have cost about Slot), 000, to be paid for in hard money, as bills of 
exchange were then but little used. Such an importation and ex- 
portation would have required months of time, and would have 
made a sensation indeed, for, though common, a large part of the 
families had none, and they are now rare as old curiosities. Is it 
possible, rating his intelligence very low, that, if he had attempted 
such a speculation, he would not have been persuaded of its folly 
long before he could have executed it? Except for the purpose for 
which they were made, they are of no value. Dexter says they were 
sold in the West Indies as cooking utensils, but a glance shows how 
inconvenient they would be for such use. The tradition is that they 
v-ere sold to dip and strain molasses, but they are poorly adapted 
to this, and nearly a century ago, when sugar plantations were few 
in the West Indies, but a small part of 42,000 would have satisfied 
any such demand. Did any visitor to the West Indies ever see or 
hear of one of these 42,000 warming-pans? 

Of all his speculations the bible venture seems most improbable. 
If there was an over supply, they would be English bibles, sent to 



11 

a Roman Catholic country where bibles are but little circulated, to 
a Spanish talking people that could not read them, and. of course, 
could not be made to understand their terrible destiny it' they did 
not buy one. 

There is another speculation often spoken of, and mentioned by 
Mrs. Smith in her History of Newburyport, but which Dexter does 
not give in his " Pickle for the Knowing Ones "' — a consignment of 
mittens to the West Indies, which were bought at a large advance 
by a vessel hound for the Baltic. It is enough to say of this that 
wool and labor have always been cheaper in the North of Europe 
than here, and there has never been a time since 1492 when mittens 
could have been shipped there from America at a profit. The sale 
of this article is limited everywhere, as the supply from lady friends 
usually equals every demand. If one consignment of mittens, or of 
any other article in which Dexter was so fortunate, could yield such 
a return, why did not some other Yankee, taking the hint, repeat 
the venture? 

All these professed importations and exportations would naturally 
have been made at Newburyport, where Dexter lived, and which 
had a large trade with the West Indies ; yet the collector of cus- 
toms of that place lias told me that the hooks of the custom house 
contain no evidence of any such transactions. Every old person in 
Newburyport with whom I have conversed, has accepted all these 
stories, yet could give; no foundation for them except the common 
belief. If Dexter dealt in warming-pans and the other articles 
named at all. it was probably in small quantities, as he would have 
dealt in other articles in common demand, to make a little "corner," 
and, to conceal his object, he would give the most foolish reason. 
The only direct evidence I can find is Dexter's own word, and he 
professes to tell a "secret," when such large and unusual specula- 
tions could not have taken place without general knowledge and 
discussion. Ivnapp says : "Tricks without malice made up the great 
amusement of his latter days. lie devised it in the morning and 
cherished it at night, and no doubt it filled his dreams." The only 
satisfactory explanation, then, of these stories which Dexter tells to 
those inquiring minds so anxious to learn the secret how he made 
his money, is that they were the creation of his own brain, a great 
joke worthy of Mark Twain, successfully imposed on the commu- 
nity — that instead of being the fool he is commonly regarded, he 
fooled others. 

The inventory of Dexter's estate, taken from the Probate Office, 
is as follows : 

Real Estate 12,000. 

Personal Estate 15,500. 

Goods 7,527.39 

$35,027.39 



12 

This small estate shows how largely Dexter's wealth was over- 
estimated, and how improbable arc the statements of transactions 
calling for such large sums as have been named. He was sharp 
in all his business affairs, and spent but little except to gratify 
his vanity and his passion for drink. A little money in those days 
of small means and great economy made much show, and it is doubt- 
ful if he ever could have been worth as much as |75,000. There 
is no reason to believe he ever made any serious losses ; this would 
be contrary to the tradition that he was always a lucky fool. All 
the business operations of which we have any knowledge seem to 
have been marked by good sense. He was interested in public 
affairs, and gave judiciously, but not largely, to objects of charity. 
He took one hundred shares and was the largest stockholder in 
the new bridge over the Merrimack, at Deer Island, now the attrac- 
tive home of Richard S. and Harriet Prescott Spofford, and at its 
opening, July 4, 1793, delivered an oration which one of the news- 
papers of that day, thrusting greatness on Timothy Dexter as they 
have done on many a Dexter since, pronounced "for elegance of 
style, propriety of speech, and force of argument, truly Ciceronian." 
And it may be stated, that these shares are all the stocks named in 
his will, or in the inventory of his estate. It has been said that his 
motive for putting up the images was to make the new bridge a pay- 
ing investment by drawing travel over it and past his house, and he 
wrote some newspaper articles against other proposed bridges. He 
gave a bell to one of the churches, and sums to the other churches 
to be used in benevolence. A gift was made to St. Paul's Church 
on condition that a tablet should perpetuate it, and there it hangs 
to-day with gilt letters, a monument of his vanity and of his shrewd- 
ness in so ingeniously perpetuating his name. He offered to pave 
Ilio-h Street if it should be called by his name, and to build a mar- 
ket house for the use of the town with a similar condition. Both 
objects were much heeded, and he showed far better judgment in 
the offer than did the town in its rejection. 

If the view here taken is correct, the Dexter of tradition and com- 
mon belief disappears, and in his place is a vain, uneducated, weak, 
coarse, drunken, cunning man, low in his tastes and habits, con- 
stantly striving for foolish display and attention, but, with all his 
folly, having business shrewdness, to which, and not to luck, he 
owed his success. 

His family, mainly his own fault, was not a happy one. His only 
son was allowed to spend money as he pleased, was sent to Europe, 
and had every opportunity for improvement ; but, as might be ex- 
pected, he became dissipated, a prodigal, and died a drunkard one 
year after his father. His only daughter, with some beauty, but a 
feeble intellect, was sought on account of her reputed wealth, and 
married a judge, who soon became tired of her, and obtained a di- 



voire, with or without reason, and sent her home an imbecile, with 
confirmed habits of intoxication. A child of this daughter married 
respectably, but died early, and with the death of the daughter, about 
1850, the family became extinct. 

A lady in Newburyport has a portrait of Dexter, taken by an 
artist in New Haven, where his daughter had married. He is rep- 
resented dressed as a gentleman of that day, wearing a wig, a ruf- 
fled bosom and ruffled wristbands, and his face certainly indicates 
no lack of intelligence. 

lie died October 2<i, 1806 ; his death caused or hastened by in- 
temperate habits. His will was judicious, lie provided carefully 
for his family and others having natural claims on him, and made 
some sensible bequests, among them $2, (MX) to Newburyport, the 
income to be expended for the poor, and $2,000 for the support of 
the gospel, and $300 tor a hell to his native town, Maiden, lie re- 
quested to lie buried in the tomb he had constructed in his garden, 
but the hoard of health interfered, and he rests with his lollies in 
the cemetery close to the beautiful mall. On the plain stone over 
his grave is the following inscription : 

"In memory of Timothy Dexter who died Oct. i'ti. 1806, 
iEtatis ! 
He gave liberal Donations 
For tin- support of the Gospel ; 
For the benefit of the Poor, 
And tor other benevolent purpos 

Near his grave are those of his wife, who died July -">, 1809, aged 
72, and of his son, who died July 20, FS07, aged 36. 

The images remained as at Dexter's decease until the great gale 
in LSI.") blew down most of them, which were sold by auction for a 
small sum. The three; presidents on the arch, however, occupied 
their place till about 18.10, attracting much attention, and keeping- 
alive the old curiosity about the former eccentric owner. 

The house was used as a hotel and the home of the daughter till 
her death, and with the grounds was neglected. It was then bought 
by a gentleman of good taste, the late Dr. E. G. Kellcy, who great- 
ly improved the buildings and grounds, and sold it to the Hon. 
George II. Corliss, who has made it one of the most attractive hoi 
of the city. The eagle on the top remains, the last of Dexter's 
images.